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Backing to Protect AE2: Our Silent Anzac

Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence Media Mail List

MINASSIST 051/2006
Monday, 6 November 2006

Australian Government Backing to Protect AE2: Our Silent Anzac

The Australian Government will provide the Submarine Institute of Australia (SIA) with $368,500 in funding for a project aimed to protect, preserve and tell the story of the Australian Submarine HMAS AE2, which played an important role during the Gallipoli campaign of 1915.

Mr Billson said he was delighted to confirm that the Australian Government had accepted the SIA's proposal to survey and protect the best interests of the AE2 and to also share the unique story of the submarine with the broader community.

"I am pleased to confirm that the Australian Government has offered the SIA funding of $368,500 to assist with conducting a detailed dived survey of the AE2 and its surrounding environment.

“Data collected will assist with the development of a range of future management options for the submarine for consideration by the Australian and Turkish Governments," Mr Billson said.

The Government's funding offer is based on the agreement that the Institute will match the contribution on a dollar-for-dollar basis. An amount of $20,000 will also be provided to support a rehearsal dive survey in Port Phillip Bay in Victoria.

Mr Billson also confirmed approval for the SIA to use the name “Silent ANZAC” to promote its work in relation to the AE2.

"The SIA has the collective knowledge, expertise and dedication to be entrusted with this important work and I encourage the community to support their endeavours and fundraising efforts,” he said.

The AE2 was the first allied submarine to penetrate the Dardanelles as part of a successful submarine campaign which paralysed enemy shipping in the Sea of Marmara.

It was a perilous assignment after entering the straits of the Dardanelles on April 25, 1915, as the ANZACs landed on the beaches, HMAS AE2 penetrated the minefields, evaded the numerous patrol craft, survived the heavy shell fire from the many forts and successfully navigated the strong currents.

It also torpedoed the Turkish gunboat Peykisevket and reached the Sea of Marmara, despite being hotly pursued by enemy surface vessels.

On April 30 the AE2 came under heavy attack from the Turkish torpedo boat Sultan Hissar, resulting in the crew losing control of the submarine and being ordered to abandon the stricken boat, without loss of life.

The AE2 then sank to the sea floor and has remained there until this day, 73 metres below the surface.

President of the SIA Rear Admiral Peter Briggs (Ret) welcomed the Australian Government funding offer and said the organisation would work in partnership with the Turkish Institute of Nautical Archaeology.

"All activities will be carried out with the agreement of both the Australian and Turkish Governments and in accordance with the best practices for the management of shipwrecks, including the relevant draft United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) convention," RADM Briggs said.

"Following the dived survey, SIA will prepare a report and facilitate a joint Turkish-Australian workshop to agree on options and make recommendations on the future management of the AE2. The work is being undertaken as a community service."

The announcement coincides with the SIA's Third Biennial Conference, which is being held at the Australian War Memorial this week. Defence Minister Dr Brendan Nelson will open the conference on Wednesday morning.

The theme of the conference is The Key Challenges in Achieving an Underwater Warfare Capability to Meet Australia's Needs in the Period 2020 to 2050.


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